Friday, November 23, 2012

Halloween & Thanksgiving (aka The Year I did not Overeat...Turkey)

But man, did I enjoy the candy!


This year, we went beyond our typical carving of pumpkins and decided to do some real decorating. It's the first time I've ever used that fake cobweb stuff, and I have to say it's loads of fun. The entire family got in on the action and while it's no jack-o-lantern light show to Gangnam Style, we did get a lot of compliments and one family even took photos of our decorations when they trick-or-treated our place.


Unfortunately, I didn't think to take photos, myself, until the morning after. So, some of the awesome (particularly our spooky lighting) is lost. Oh, well. (You can click on the images for larger versions.)

This is our back porch (which is quite viewable to the neighborhood). Those black dots are fake spiders.

Even the bushes in our front "yard" were not exempt.

The pumpkin carvers from left to right: C-bear (with help from Banana), Little E, Princess (with help from Mom), G-man, Banana & Lee-Lee

The lights were an eery dark purple. And that spider was my favorite!

And now the kiddie costumes! (In no particular order. And again, you can click on the images for the larger versions.)

Banana was a CSI victim. As you can see by the GSW on her head (death was instantaneous) at close range (judging by the GSR stippling around the entry wound) and probably a small caliber bullet. Before her death, she'd been having a night out with friends (see the sparkly false eyelashes?). Sadly, my camera was having some sort of issue and so the photo is blurry. :(

C-bear was a generic princess. Her dress is quite reminiscent of Rapunzel's in "Tangled." (Mommy loses brownie points for taking a head shot rather than a full body one.)

G-Man as Bumblebee from Transformers. This choice should probably come as no surprise since the boy has loved cars (particularly fast ones) from a young age. (I'm serious. He actually enjoys watching NASCAR!)

Lee-Lee, I think, should win all the awards for this year's most awesome Halloween costume with her portrayal of Dead Marie Antoinette. Lee-Lee actually does suffer from a condition where she grows faint at the sight of blood (folks, this is a real thing!) and we learned this year that fake blood will do it to her, too. However, her tolerance for fake blood is a smidge higher than for the real stuff, and she was able to stomach the level of gore on her face and neck. (The dress was made by Nana.)

Little E was our resident Ninja this year. He is also one of my more health-conscious children. He only trick-or-treated for less than half the time the others did because, and I quote, "I don't need that much candy. It's too much sugar." On top of that, he gave half of what he had away to his siblings (and parents). But he did have a grand time sitting on the porch for the evening with Mom and Dad, passing out treats.

And Princess was, well, a princess. Actually she had fairy wings (that she chose not to wear in the end), and a crown and scepter (which had gotten broken during another Halloween activity the weekend before), so this wasn't the original idea. In fact, this was a "Southern Bell" costume, but she didn't like the other princess-like offerings the store had and loved the pink in this. I have a feeling since she was so hands-on in piecing together something that fit her 5-year-old vision that in years to come, we're going to see some really creative offerings from her.

It was a fun Halloween. We had a pretty decent showing of Trick-or-Treaters as well. (Lots of little ones in our neighborhood) and I always enjoy seeing the costumes.

And I ate way, way too much candy during pretty much the entire month of October.

Now onto...


No photos for this one, unfortunately. (I never think to bust out the camera during this particular holiday.)

This year, being far from home, we invited a couple of other families (also far from their respective homes) to join us for the festivities. Thanksgiving, for me, is the biggest family holiday of the year. You just don't celebrate it alone.

I have happy childhood memories of Thanksgivings spent at my uncle's house or my grandparent's home, where my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my cousins were all practically piled on top of each other as the house would be full of card tables and folding chairs. Everyone would bring something like a huge, delectable potluck: homemade dinner rolls, the typical Thanksgiving trimmings, and of course, meatballs. Yes, meatballs. (And the best you've ever had, I promise.) I loved it. I miss it.

And so, the thought of whipping up a crazy-big meal this year for only our six picky-eaters (who wouldn't have eaten much)... Well, how would that be different than Sunday dinner? We found another family or two who were wondering whether to bother with Thanksgiving for the same reasons (though they have decidedly less children than we, if still the same picky-ness) and decided to thrown in together for the holiday.

It was quite nice. And delicious (sadly no meatballs, however). Since we were hosting, we provided the main course stuff. Big E has cooking the turkey down to a science. (He brines it the night before. He cooks it upside down for the first couple of hours to make the breast so tender it's like butter. And he stuffs it with apples. Yep. Apples. My man can make a mean turkey.) I made my mashed potatoes (or "smashed" potatoes as Princess likes to call them) along with other traditional side dishes.

We had a buffet full of tasty food (the other families brought some yummies, too)--which, of course, with only 6 adults and 9 very, very picky eater kids, we had tons and tons of leftovers of. (I only had a modest plate-full myself this year.)

But then, despite the hours spent in the kitchen leading up to the main event, Thanksgiving isn't really about the food, is it? It's about family. It's about friends. It's about forgetting our cares for a few hours to be grateful for what we have.

This year, I'm grateful for second chances. I'm grateful that my kids somehow think I'm pretty neat despite how much of a non-Mom I've been for so long. I'm grateful that they've embraced these changes I've made without bitterness, without resentment, without holding a grudge. (My kids are phenomenal, I tell you.) I'm grateful for a husband who supports me and doesn't hold my past mistakes over my head.

And most of all, I'm thankful to God, for the wake-up call He gave me and the chance to make things right.

I'm happier now than I've been in years.


  1. I wouldn't blame you if you chose to delete this comment :-).

    I will say that I completely understand the need to remove yourself off certain sites. I used a bebo about 4 or 5 times and had two contacts, but have not used it for years.

    I don't use myspace to contact anyone anymore, since they accidentally banned me, when I reported spammers and refused to accept responsibility for their mistake.

    I use facebook, but have limited contacts and sometimes I'm on less than 5 minutes.

    No Pintrest.

    A barely used Linkedin.

    No twitter.

    No phone, except a landline. I don't need a pocket phone and never have had a need.

    One thing I know is, that no matter what you have done in your life and no matter how you have judged yourself, deep down inside, has always, always existed a beautiful person, deserving of her children, husband and life and no matter what you do, you always will be that person and deserving of those things.

    You're someone I met in the internet sense, but I've never regretted that and I will never forget it either, because you have always been a breath of fresh air, an education in the best of human emotion and how it comes across and a real light in all weathers and the night.

    I've known you for a number of years in a roundabout way and understood some of your own struggles and personal experience and I have alwyas wished the very, very best for you.

    You are a wonderful person Randi, but also just as human and flawed as any decent person. You appear to have worked out, more about who you need to be, versus who you think you have been and you deserve to be proud of your realisations.

    I don't think for one minute you have been a bad parent or wife. I think you have probably made mistakes and been sometimes wide of the mark with judgements, but having 6 children and a life with a military husband that also involves having to often put down roots, because you keep moving, is going to be a challenge for anyone and it's understandable you wouldn't have always done things that were the best choices and decisions and realised it with hindsight.

    Whether you're being too hard or very real about the last 9 years, it's not my place to say, because only you know that and I would be supposing, but whatever the next 9 years brings and the next 9 after that, you'll always do it with children and a husband that I think will never forget what you mean to them, when you are doing it so well, os often and being the best person you want to be.

    You've earned that from them time and again and should be proud of them and yourself. Anyone can take photographs of their own family and expect them to look happy and positive on purpose, but that happiness and positivity truly comes from the heart and gut and it would show if it was forced, so it shows that they feel so much for you, because they can naturally express it.

    I have and always will, feel a sense of great pride in a person like you Randi. I have always thought highly of you and wouldn't think less of you for anything. Your life is a challenge and will sometimes feel tough and overwhelming, but you're still here, still fighting and have never given up on yourself or anyone around you.

    That takes heart, courage and belief that not everyone possesses and I believe those qualities will continue to serve you well and help you through anything and everything.

    You and your family are made for each other and always have been and I hope you all continue to feel the special bond, that is unique to you all and that you all deserve.

    I know you've got more than enough humanity and emotion for them and for you; so keep believing, don't stop pushing and don't be afraid to keep challenging your own perceptions of yourself. You're a brilliant Lady and a gift to the world and there's more of you to come, there's no doubt of that.

    GOOD LUCK and best wishes.

    :-) :-).


    1. Love the Halloween pictures! You bring back good memories. When I was little, we kept the front door open for all the neighborhood trick-or-treaters (ah, to be back in that safer, more innocent time), set up the record player in the entry hall playing the Disney "Haunted House" record all evening, and set out a dead body or two for the proper atmosphere. Good times, good times. My favorite of your pictures is the six jack-o-lanterns all in a row.

      Thanksgiving was the day for big family get-togethers for us too, back before our family scattered to the four winds. Great food and nice memories.

      I can't believe how quickly the kids are growing. You have such a beautiful family. Keep up the good work, Mom.